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Build a BlackBerry app in 10 minutes

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Building a mobile app can be a costly exercise, but LIRON SEGEV finds a quick, easy to use solution that allows him to build a BlackBerry app in ten minutes.

Apps. We have them, we use them, we download them and some are really cool. Many of us want our own app, but don’t want to pay developers huge amounts of money to build one. I set out on a mission at the BlackBerry Jam Europe event to see what the fastest and cheapest way is to build an application for my blog.

The answer came when I built my own app in ten minutes. It didn’t cost me a cent, and I didn’t have to write a single line of code.

The Two Rules

I only had two rules before setting about creating my app.

Firstly, I wanted an app, but didn’t want to rebuild it for each generation of BlackBerry’s operating system. I also wanted it to work on a PlayBook.

Secondly, the application needed to be a native. In other words, not just a link from an icon to my site but rather an application that is installed and ‚”lives‚” on the phone.

I scoured the various BlackBerry partners, investigated many options and spoke to many programmers who offered lots of ‚”How-To-Build-Your-Own-App‚” manuals.

I discovered that if you have any coding skills, the simplest development way is using HTML 5 WebWorks. However, I wanted to find a solution that was even simpler as not everyone can write code.

I then found the guys from BlackBerry App Generator. According to the writing on the wall (literally), I could build my app in under 10 minutes and it will cost me nothing.

The BlackBerry App Generator runs on Mippin, so I set out to find David Mannl, Founder and Creative Director of Mippin, who explains that with the App Generator, you enter your info and the system does all the work. It takes your info, sends it to a range of templates out in the cloud where it is digitally signed and checked. This all happens in minutes. Mippin also offers you the ability to publish and build your app for other mobile system such as Android, Nokia, Windows and iOS. However, these do come at a fee, whereas BlackBerry is free.

Nick Barnett, Mippin CEO, confirms that if you look at the top apps currently in the BlackBerry World most of them are built using the BlackBerry App Generator method. Big brands like OK! Magazine, Wired News, Auto Express, Daily Star and the London Standard are all using the system.

So I gave it a bash.

To get your own BlackBerry app without writing a single line of code, start by pointing your browser to: http://www.blackberryappgenerator.com, click on Create App and follow these steps:

The website will prompt you to enter the location of where to grab your content from. Options include: RSS, WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, Posterous, YouTube, Facebook and Flickr Photos.

The App Generator will then pull your content and show it to you so you can add a content name and choose which layout works best for you. You can add another source of info or click on Save & Done.

You then have the option to make design changes, upload your logo, add a header, change the colours, and add the important icon. The system will even allow you to crop the image to size so no need to worry about having any graphics editing software.

Next, you will need to create an account and select the category that your app fits into e.g. News and Information etc. Finally, you will be asked if your app is a paid for app or free and if you would like to implement BlackBerry Advertising Services into the app.

Once you click on Finish, it will automatically submit your app info, get the code signed and create the necessary .bar install files. All in minutes while you wait.

The final step is for you to click the button to Submit to BlackBerry App World. In order to do that, you need to have a vendor account, which is free.

The BlackBerry team will check your application to make sure it meets the qualification criteria. This process will take around 48 hours and once approved, will appear in the BlackBerry World ready to download.

So in summary:

I am not sure why this method has not received as much attention as the other developer options. It’s a quick way to populate the BlackBerry World and yet it is hardly mentioned. I am keeping an eye to see if apps published in this way are going to qualify into the Built for BlackBerry Apps program. Technically they meet all the criteria set by the program.

* Liron Segev is also known as The Techie Guy. You can read his blog at www.thetechieguy.com or follow him on Twitter on @Liron_Segev

* Follow Gadget on Twitter on @GadgetZA

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